Toronto, Canada - There is something to be said about the anticipation of a concert. As fans line up outside the venue waiting for the doors to open an hour before showtime, there is already an energy that is buzzing. Dudes telling stories about past shows they've seen, girls sharing their excitement about the band(s) they are about to see perform live, you can feel the electricity in the air. As I line up with the crowd, I typically keep note of the buzz. On April 30th, lining up outside of Toronto's iconic Opera House, there is definitely a feeling that something insane is about to happen. And that's an amazing feeling ahead of a metal show.
Salt Lake City, Utah's deathcore powerhouse Chelsea Grin has been powering their way through the metal scene since 2007. Originally under the moniker Ahaziah, the band changed their name (a play on the mediaeval torture method "Glasgow Smile") soon after their inception. Since then, despite some turnover of its members, the band has been kicking ass, and taking no prisoners.
On April 13, 2023, Chelsea Grin hit the road for a 28 date North American Tour. In tow, their co-headlining brethren Carnifex, along with OV Sulfur, and Left To Suffer. Local promotor Embrace Entertainment, along with massive live music promotor Live Nation, brought this tour to Toronto and with a lineup of bands as heavy a this, I'm not certain we'll even be able to hold our heads up for a second. My guess was that they'll be banging all night long.
Left To Suffer
Atlanta, Georgia's Left To Suffer got the event going on this night. The band's grinding sound within the Nu-Deathcore genre was heavy as hell, and the crowd was immediately immersed into a frenzy of flying bodies, and sweat. With bassist Christian Nowatzki bringing the energy on the stage, thrashing and moving all over the place, the already full house was completely following suit.
Vocalist Taylor Barber shares with the crowd that this is the band's first time in Toronto, and by the performance in front of our eyes, they're totally gassed to be here. As the band brings the pace down a tad, Nowatzki and guitarist Peter Higgs bang their heads in unison to the slow heavy beat. It's a cool visual, just as it was towards the end of the set when Barber asks a fan "What is that?". A cigarette gets passed up to the stage. The lead singer sets the tobacco on fire, just as the band has done to the crowd to start the show.
Next on the docket was OV Sulfur. Hailing from Las Vegas, Nevada, this blackened deathcore band continued the pummeling that was originally unleashed by the opening act. If I thought there was any chance for the pure heaviness to dissipate, it wasn't going to come from these guys. The bass was so heavy, you could literally feel it vibrating through your bones. Again, the crowd was completely engaged as bodies were flying over the security barricade, even in between songs.
Lead by vocalist Ricky Hoover, OV Sulfur was unrelenting in their attack on these Toronto metal heads. In his interaction with the crowd towards the end of the band's set, Hoover shares "Man, I fucking love Canada. We're from Vegas but you make us feel right at home." And not to rub it into the wounds of Toronto's city rivals in Montreal, Hoover says "We played Montreal last night and they don't have shit on you Toronto!!" Of course the crowd is enamored by this, as the bodies continued to fly over the wall during the whole set.
I'm amazed by the performance of the first 2 bands on this bill, but shit is about to get real intense as co-headliner's Carnifex takes the stage. Carnifex is a deathcore band from one of my favourite cities, San Diego, California. Formed in 2005, the band has released 8 full length albums, and are here to promote their most recent Graveside Confessions.
Armed with a drumkit on a raised platform, the band opened their set with "Dark Heart Ceremony", and it set the stage for another set that was bound to be heavy as hell. Vocalist Scott Ian Lewis had the crowd eating from his skull hand, as he had the whole joint jumping in unison with the music. By now, the heat in the venue was stifling, shirtless body surfers, their skin soaked with sweat, were flying over the stage blockade and the crowd was thrashing hard. Lewis shared his appreciation by telling the crowd "You're fucking beautiful Toronto!" and the band continued their torrid pace.
Halfway through their set, Lewis advises that a new album is set to release in October, and crash into brand new track "Torn in Two". The fans continue to go wild chanting "CARNIFEX! CARNIFEX! CARNIFEX!" as the band closes with "Hell Chose Me". An amazing, intense, insane set. How is this possible going to get any better???
How can it get any better you say? Enter Chelsea Grin!!! At 9:35, a red glow is cast upon the stage. The headliner's appear and they start into the title track from their most recent double album (released as 2 separate albums) Suffer in Hell, Suffer in Heaven. As a photographer, with our 3 songs in the photo pit, it's usually safe for the allowed first 3 songs. Not here though. The bodies have been flying all night, keeping the security guards extremely busy, and it was no different for Chelsea Grin.
The band was completely pumped about the show and all the supporting bands as lead singer Tom Barber cries out a massive thanks. Sometimes, this seems like a formality, but as a first hand witness, this was 100% genuine. Of course, the crowd was right there with the sentiment. They have been going crazy all night, and you couldn't squeeze another body in the jam packed house.
The band pounds through tracks like "Dead Rose" and "Original Sin". The bass continues to vibrate through my chest. The guitar is blistering riffs and licks, and the vocals are intense. As one of the best crowds I have ever seen continue their onslaught on the security guards, making them earn their keep, Barber says "You guys are so fucking awesome. THIS IS FIRE!".
Halfway through Chelsea Grin's set, Barber asks the fans "We all got one thing in common... UNITY! How many people here are starting to question the government? That's what this next song is about. FATHOMLESS MAW!" I look into the crowd. A fan in the front row is completely immersed in the music as he lip sync's. Eyes closed. Facial features in a scowl. Up on the stage, the sweat drips from the vocalist's chin.
With unrelenting energy, when the band cuts into the second last song of the night, Eternal Nightmare's "Hostage", the crowd goes absolutely insane, and they sing at the top of their lungs. I have no idea where the energy is coming from as they have been moshing, surfing, jumping, and thrashing for close to 4 hours. Actually, scratch that... the energy is coming from the band, and vice versa.
After Chelsea Grin closes the night with Crewcabanger, the crowd is not done. They want more! Unfortunately, there is no encore on this night, despite the crowd's frantic chant for "ONE MORE SONG! ONE MORE SONG! ONE MORE SONG!" But Tom Barber takes a seat, and has a brief, last chat with the hordes. "I wasn't here the last time the band was, but I'm happy to be here now. You can't make a good decision when you're mad or angry, so think about it! You guys are awesome!" A lasting sentiment, for a crowd well deserved of the love from all the bands on this night.
Without a doubt, this was the fucking heaviest, and LOUDEST show I have seen in a long, long time!!!
What's the heaviest, loudest show you've ever seen? Share your comments below!
Suffer in Hell, Suffer in Heaven The Isnis Bleeding Sun Dead Rose Origin of Sin Sing to the Grave Soul Slave My Damnation Sonnet of the Wretched Recreant Fathomless Maw Crystal Casket Leave with Us Hostage Crewcabanger
show date - April 30, 2023
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